Category Archives: Christian Life

DAY SEVENTEEN – PSALM 91

DAY SEVENTEEN

“‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord,

‘I will rescue him;

I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call upon me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble,

I will deliver him and honour him. 

With long life I will satisfy him

and show him my salvation.’”

Psalm 91:14-16

COMMENT

What an amazing string of promises!   Read through them again.  God promises to rescue you, protect you, answer your prayers when you call to Him, be with you, deliver and honour you, satisfy you with long life and show you His salvation.  Amid the storms of life that you and I face every day, what more could we ask for than all the things God has promised in these verses we have read today?  This should make your heart sing for joy because you are never alone or abandoned by your God and He is powerful enough to honour every promise He has made.

PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING

Tell the Lord today how thankful you are that He is always with you and that He will guard you against harm and sickness and crown your life with His blessings because you believe His promises and trust Him for His love and favour to be showered upon you.

DAY TWO – PSALM 139

DAY TWO

O Lord, you have searched me

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

You perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

you know it completely, O Lord.

Psalm 139:1-4

COMMENT

Not only are you the unique creation of God’s hand but also the object of His personal and intimate knowledge.  This can be quite a scary thought if you are thinking, saying, or doing what you know is displeasing to Him.  But it’s also comforting to know that God knows you so completely that you don’t need to hide anything from Him.  He knows where you are, He knows your thoughts and He knows your ways.  That means that He knows how you are going to react and what you are going to do before you do it.  Wow!  That’s amazing!  Imagine someone knowing you that well and loving you for who you are anyway.

PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING

Praise the Lord today for His intimate knowledge of you. How does that make you feel?  Don’t you feel loved and special?  Thank Him for being so close to you that everything about you is open to Him.

A HOUSE OF PRAYER

A HOUSE OF PRAYER

“Going into the Temple He began to throw out everyone who had set up shop, selling everything and anything. He said, ‘It’s written in Scripture, “My house is a house of prayer,” but you have turned it into a religious bazaar.’

“From then on He taught each day in the Temple. The high priests, religion scholars, and the leaders of the people were trying their best to find a way to get rid of Him. But with the people hanging on every word He spoke; they couldn’t come up with anything.” Luke 19:45-49 (The Message).

Jesus had made His intentions clear on Palm Sunday when He turned towards the Temple, not Pilate’s residence. The Temple, symbolic of God’s desire to make His dwelling with His people, was His focus. It was the place where He expected to find people whose hearts were after God and who were there to worship Him in the appropriate way. It was there that He spent time, while He was in Jerusalem, teaching the people about the kingdom of God.

What He found when He reached the Temple, appalled Him. Luke’s Gospel gives us few details, but we learn from the other gospels that the opportunists had set up shop in the outer court – the court of the Gentiles, which was the farthest non-Jews were allowed to go in the Temple. The merchants were no doubt there under the protection of the religious leaders who would take a cut of the profits for their co-operation! 

So what were they doing? They were making a fine business out of selling ‘unblemished’ sacrificial animals at Passover. This seems innocent enough but a closer look, coupled with Jesus’ accusation, reveals that they were engaged in crooked business.

Every animal had to pass the scrutiny of the priests to be declared fit for a Passover offering. Many animals ‘failed’ the test which meant that they had to be scrapped and another bought from the merchants. The ‘failed’ animal was then sold to the next worshipper whose lamb had been rejected. This practice, together with the exorbitant exchange rate charged by the men handling the forex, was a lucrative business both for the merchants and for their religious overlords.

Jesus was incensed by the whole scene. It angered and sickened Him because it exposed the disposition of the human heart. It was the basest thing any human being could pull off on sincere worshippers, and it hijacked the only place in the Temple where Gentiles were permitted to worship God.  

Since Jesus’ action has deeper significance than simply an outburst of righteous anger, we have to go to John’s Gospel to find out the underlying meaning of this incident. John records this event as happening at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It was a prophetic action which revealed the purpose of His coming. John’s record is authenticated by  false witnesses at Jesus’ trial, which we find in Mark’s Gospel (14:57,58). “Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against Him. ‘We heard Him say, “I will destroy this man-made temple, and in three days will build another, not made by man.”‘ Yet even then their testimony did not agree.”     

By cleansing the Temple of the greedy merchants in cahoots with greedy religious leaders, Jesus was declaring the purpose of His own death. He had come to uncover and deal with the deepseated reason why human beings need to be cleansed and reconciled to God so that He can make His dwelling within us. By giving His own sinless life as a sacrificial Passover lamb, He would set people free from their slavery to selfishness, greed and wickedness, and give us the right and power to become a ‘house of prayer’ for God, a place of loving, intimate fellowship with Him.

It was this ‘zeal for His house’ that sent Jesus to the cross, and it is still the zeal for God’s spiritual house that motivates His passion for people. God has purposed and will fulfill His plan to complete what He began, to build a family of men and women, boys and girls from every nation, tribe and clan on earth who will receive His love, and will love and worship Him in return.

Will you be one of them? It’s your choice…  

ALL ECSTACIES AND INTIMACIES

ALL ECSTACIES AND INTIMACIES

“Jesus said, ‘Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage nor, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God.'” Luke 20:34-36 (The Message).

Wrong perspective again! Would they never learn?

The Sadducees’ preoccupation was political rather than religious and they had no axe to grind with Jesus. However, they were prompted to get in on the act with their religious counterparts, the Pharisees, not realising that no-one could outsmart Jesus, least of all them with their superficial knowledge of the Scriptures.

So they came at Him with a question prompted by their ignorance, and received a profound response that gives us a chink of light into the life of the believer in the hereafter. It amazes me how much of Jesus’ teaching on the deepest truths about God and the relationship He has called us into, came out of conflict with His opponents.

The current concept and experience of marriage, both in the world and in the church, is a mess because we have failed to grasp God’s original intention, hence the soaring divorce rate, dysfunctional families and all the unhappiness that causes, and all the other deviations from this holy institution; sexual promiscuity, ‘shacking up’ and so-called ‘sexual orientation’. Although our way does not work, we have not yet learned that God’s way is the truth.

What is God’s way?

On one occasion the Pharisees were questioning Jesus about the legality of divorce. He swept aside their rationalising in one single statement, “‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard, But it was not this way from the beginning.'” Matthew 19:8 (NIV). 

God expressly stated that His intention was to create man in His own image. Israel’s statement of faith in Deuteronomy 6:4 gives us the essence of what that means: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” God’s oneness implies unity in diversity, unity of essence and nature but diversity in function.

The entire universe reflects God’s image in its interdependence and interaction. Nothing in the universe functions independently. The universe is one, unity in diversity. The pinnacle of the expression of that oneness is in man. God made man to be like Him in the unity of our being – body, soul and spirit functioning as one, and in our capacity to be spiritually one with Him.

After creating man and woman, His first action was to bring them together for one purpose: “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:23-24 (NIV).

Jesus made it clear that marriage was only for this life because, when a husband and wife learn to live together in unity, they will have a foretaste of the ecstacies and intimacies of unity with God in the life to come. Marriage is a picture of the real thing and will fall away when the real thing happens. 

Selfishness and the power struggle that often happens between husband and wife ruins that picture. It can only become reality if they both understand what marriage is about and learn to live with each other in mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21), and self-sacrificing love. Jesus is our perfect role model. He gave His life for His bride, the church. The purpose of marriage is to be a mirror to the world of what Jesus did for His bride, so that the world may see what God is like and return to Him.

BE ON YOUR GUARD

BE ON YOUR GUARD

“But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectations be dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for its going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of man.'” Luke 21:34-36 (The Message).

Jesus issued two warnings regarding His return; be on guard, and be ready. Almost two thousand years have come and gone since His appearance on the earth. That’s a long time to wait for something to happen that is as revolutionary as His coming promises to be. According to the Bible, when He comes He will rid the earth of every person and thing that conflicts with God’s origninal plan. He will set up His eternal kingdom of righteousness and peace and destroy every opposing force.

He also gave His followers instructions regarding their commission during the interval before He returns. We are to extend His invitation to everyone we meet to follow and obey Him, and we are to take care of His household, loving and serving believers so that we faithfully reflect Him to the world around us.

The temptation to believers is to become so enmeshed in the world and its allurements that we forget Jesus’ instructions and either go to sleep on the job or join the world in its selfish and worthless pursuits. We can become disillusioned with Jesus because following Him is tough and sometimes perilous. The promise of His coming seems so remote and illusory that we simply join in with everything that goes on around us. Hence Jesus’ warning is relevant and needs to be repeated constantly.

He told a parable about ten virgins who were awaiting the bridegroom’s return. He delayed for so long that they all fell asleep. Five of them were ready but not watching; the other five were neither ready nor watching. When the bridegroom finally arrived, they were awakened by the shout, ‘Here he is!’ Their lamps had gone out. Five were able to relight their lamps with extra oil they carried but the other five had none, so they tried to borrow oil from the others.

Since most of us don’t understand the imagery, our misinterpretation causes us to miss the point. The oil in this story represents, not the Holy Spirit as we tend to think, but the “acts of righteousness” referred to in Revelation 19:7: “‘For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)”

The five “wise” virgins were ready because their “lamps” were full of their “righteous acts”. It was impossible for the “foolish” virgins to borrow righteous acts. They had to go out and do their own, but for them it was too late because the bridegroom came and the doors to the wedding banquet were locked. 

Being ready implies that the life of Jesus in us has so transformed us that we have taken on His nature which is loving and generous towards all people. This is the proof that we are ready to receive Him when He returns and to go in to the marriage supper with Him.

His warning to be on guard is equally sobering. What if, when He returns, He finds that we have forgotten to do what He told us to do and, instead, we have joined the world in its selfish pursuits; drinking, partying and living ungodly lives like the rest? How would He feel about us?

His instruction is clear. To be on guard and ready is to be faithfully carrying out His mandate to share His invitation and to take care of those who have joined His household by feeding and clothing them and by doing our duty to him by sharing our resources with those in need. Daily focussing on these duties will keep us from falling asleep or becoming lazy or irresponsible while we wait.

Living for Jesus, one day at a time, is an effective antidote against the danger of failing to be on guard or ready for our bridegroom when He comes.